I’m overdue in updating my “best of” round-up of Victoria shoe stores for women. Since I last wrote on the subject, there have been some exciting developments on the downtown shoe scene.
(Don’t worry, guys. I haven’t forgotten about you. Click here to read my round-up of the best places for men to buy shoes in Victoria.)
For each of the following shoe stores, I’ve selected a particular shoe that I feel represents the tone and style of the store’s collection as it compares to the others. The first two entries are Victoria’s newest shoe shops. The last one, Freedman Shoes, sadly will be closing just before Christmas 2011.
1. Head Over Heels (250-590-5154), 1323 Blanshard Street. What a delightful addition to the new Atrium building. Men will be disappointed to see this modern, spacious, glass-and-beam architectural space has no footwear for them. But there is eye candy galore for the gals. The emphasis is on shoes that combine distinctive style with comfort, mainly in the form of European imports. Look for the wonderful Spanish lines Art, Audley, Hispanitas, Sixtyseven, and Wonders; Ash from Italy; Gabor from Germany; and the “aggressively chic” Jump line from Taiwan.
2. She She Shoes (250-383-1883), 616 Trounce Alley. Victoria’s best selection of glamour footwear. If you want your shoes to sparkle, shine, and give you the shapely calves of a pin-up girl, this is where to look for your next party heels. Nina, Friis Company, Seychelles, Khrio, no 704b, Collection Portia, Ed Hardy, and many other ultra-fashionable brands.
3. Footloose Shoes (250-383-4040; www.footlooseshoes.com), 637 Fort. A little more “sensible” in its footwear collections than She She Shoes, Footloose has all the top-quality lines arrayed around its pleasantly spacious store: John Fluevog, Fly, Camper, El Naturalista, Cydwoq, Frye, Chie Mihara, Dansko, Josef Seibel, Hispanitas, and many more. Follow the Footloose blog at www.footlooseshoes.com for updates on new arrivals and sweet sales.
4. Heart & Sole (250-920-7653; www.heartandsoleshoes.ca), 1014 Cook. If you’re looking for superbly crafted shoes, this shop is small but its collections are high quality. You’ll find a mix of John Fluevog, Miz Mooz, Tsubo, El Naturalista, and quite a range of modern “fashion” Birkenstocks. You can also order custom-made Sandalman sandals here.
5. Field’s Shoes (250-388-5921), 1300 Government. Field’s emphasis is on comfort lines of good quality for women and men—ECCO, Timberland, Rockport, Clarks—all of which are increasingly learning that easy-to-wear shoes must also be stylish to sell. Perhaps the best tip I can give you about Field’s is that they also operate a Field’s Outlet (250-382-5911) just around the corner at 574 Yates, where last season’s shoes, boots, and sandals can be had for dramatic discounts.
6. The Cobbler (250-386-3741), 718 View. The Cobbler, an unpretentious little shop, tends to fly under the shopping radar of many Victorians. The store carries some of the designer shoes you’ll find at the shops above, but stocks more the mid-range brands than top end, tending toward youthful and colourful options. Best of all, The Cobbler dedicates a whole wall to sale shoes year-round. I’ve found many a bargain here, with prices sliding down, down, down to the $30 price range.
7. Baggins (250-388-7022; http://bagginsshoes.com), 110-561 Johnson. “Possibly the world’s largest collection of Converse sneakers,” the Baggins’ website claims. I can’t verify that statement, but I’ve personally never seen so many of these stylish running shoes displayed in one store. In the Rock and Roll line alone, there are Converse designs in homage to Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, The Grateful Dead, The Who, Blondie, The Ramones, and The Clash. I’m utterly charmed by the new Dr. Seuss line, fun for adults and children.
Go forth and shop, my fellow shoe hounds. There are beautiful shoes just waiting to go home with you!
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